Check this page for updates and announcements from Easy Star.
June 25, 2015THE EXPANDERS DEBUT #1 ON BILLBOARD REGGAE
"The Expanders' Hustling Culture has impressively debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae chart. Hustling Culture (released June 16th, 2015 on Easy Star Records) is the band's third studio album and their first release to claim the #1 spot on the Billboard Reggae chart. The Los Angeles-based quintet, comprised of John Asher (Drums, Vocals), John Butcher (Guitar, Vocals), Roy Fishell (Organ), Chiquis Lozoya (Bass, Vocals), and Devin Morrison (Guitar, Vocals), have been making reggae fans and critics take note with their refreshing sound that references the “golden era” of reggae.
“With its #1 debut on the reggae chart, Hustling Culture proves that all styles of reggae are being represented in today’s diverse scene. Their hard work, dynamic shows, and deep-rooted knowledge of the history of the genre, make them a must see act” says Easy Star CEO Eric Smith. He adds, “Furthermore, the critical and commercial response for this release proves how much potential this band has and we are confident they will only grow from here.”
There is a subtle, yet powerfully conscious thread woven throughout all 12 tracks of Hustling Culture, with appearances by organist Roger Rivas of The Aggrolites as well as keyboardist Dan Hastie of Orgone. Limiting the featured guests on this record was a conscious decision for The Expanders, preferring instead to make a record that is all them. The band continues their national tour playing shows with Tribal Seeds and The Green, showcasing songs from the new album and back catalog. Press accolades for Hustling Culture have been pouring in from a diversity of national and international media outlets.
“It's a good time for fans of the classic '70s reggae sound…there are a handful of contemporary bands that take the sound very seriously, striving to respectfully and properly pay tribute to the mood and feel of vintage reggae. The Expanders, a Los Angeles-based quintet, are among those leading that charge.” – Wax Poetics
“From the top to the very last drop, the tight musicianship—and ebullient performances make Hustling Culture an album that’s easy to keep on repeat.” – LA Examiner
“The Expanders have nailed the feel-good vibe of reggae on this album. This is perfect music for sunny days…If you want to be in a better mood, this album is a pretty good prescription.” – The Examiner " More info »
June 18, 2015THE EXPANDERS' NEW RECORD OUT NOW
"For more than a decade, U.S. reggae artists have been building a foundation from the Hawaiian islands to the east coast. This new generation of reggae artists continues to reach new heights of success with album and ticket sales, as well as winning over fans worldwide. While most modern American reggae bands are rooted in the rock reggae style, there are a few U.S. artists championing the lineage of classic roots reggae traditions, and Los Angeles-based vintage reggae revivalists The Expanders are leading that charge, building their sound around classic 70's and early 80's style reggae, with three-part vocal harmonies, conscious songwriting, and an indie-DIY spirit.
The five-piece band comprised of John Asher (Drums, Vocals), John Butcher (Guitar, Vocals), Roy Fishell (Organs), Chiquis Lozoya (Bass, Vocals), and Devin Morrison (Guitar, Vocals) have been making reggae fans and critics take note with their refreshing sound that references the “golden era” of reggae. Morrison and Butcher grew up listening to the record collection of famed reggae archivist Roger Steffens, and credit much of their love and knowledge to the accessibility and education of those experiences. Becoming friends with Steffens' son, they developed an obsession with exploring the deepest reaches of the genre.
Hustling Culture is the band's third studio album, but for the band members feels like their first proper album as a cohesive unit. Asher explains, “Our first album was a collection of music from good friends making a record together. Our second album was a great covers album, but Hustling Culture is the band coming into its own with our songwriting and musicianship.” Morrison adds, “For this album we spent more time prepping and rehearsing, giving us more confidence in the recording studio. The result made the process more fun and enjoyable as we approached the song-writing in a more organized way and explored a wider range of topics than on the first album. Our combined efforts really shine through and all the musicians really stepped up and gave an inspired effort on the whole record.” In addition to the core members, their extended family includes keyboardist Roger Rivas of The Aggrolites and Rivas Recordings. Rivas has been an integral part of The Expanders' recordings and helped maintain and produce the authentic sounds, which shine through on all the band’s releases.
Hustling Culture was recorded entirely on analogue tape at Killion Sound in North Hollywood, CA, from 2012-2014. The studio is a favorite recording place for the band because it's run by Sergio Rios (Orgone), a friend who understands their unique aesthetic and has the gear to capture it, giving the album a warm and colorful palette.
The album title, Hustling Culture, comes from the album's opening line: “One dollar gone but the next soon come, we never stop from hustling culture.” Morrison explains, “Everyone has a hustle, and ours is roots & culture music. It's a way of reminding ourselves that outside of just entertaining and financial gain, there is a bigger picture and larger purpose for writing about the topics and playing the style of roots reggae that we do.” The Expanders' music is a reminder that reggae music wasn't born in a tropical beach paradise, but in the impoverished and underprivileged areas of Jamaica, resulting in a passionate expression for human rights, social justice and freedom from oppression.
There is a subtle, yet powerful conscious thread woven throughout Hustling Culture. “Uptown Set,” for example, is about the hidden effects of our country's party lifestyle, which brings suffering and misery to innocent poor people caught along the routes where party drugs come across the border. “Thanks For Life” is a dedication to women, the struggle they face every day, and the debt of life that we all owe to them. “Top Shelf” is a tribute to the ganja farmers and the reflection of the changing cultural views on marijuana.
The band is part of a burgeoning Los Angeles reggae scene that sprang in large part from The Blue Beat Lounge (the longest running weekly ska night that happened at the Knitting Factory) and LA’s longtime premier weekly reggae night Dub Club held at the Echoplex. A song that was inspired by a key member of that scene is “Reggae Pops,” an infectious instrumental tune laid over a “steppers riddim” featuring John Butcher on lead guitar and Dan Hastie from Orgone on clavinet. The title was chosen as a tribute to the late-great Reggae Pops (born Nemencio Jose Andujar) who was a pillar of the Southern California reggae community for decades. Morrison states, “It's impossible to accurately describe what he meant to reggae music in Los Angeles, but those who remember him from shows will never forget him. He was a dancer, a fan, and a presence that was always felt. He was the man!”
The Expanders will be on tour throughout the summer. Morrison concludes, “Our goal is to bring that vintage reggae feel and sound that we love to places where people might not get to hear it on a regular basis.” " More info »
April 28, 2015GIANT PANDA GUERILLA DUB SQUAD RELEASES NEW ALBUM "BRIGHT DAYS"
"With the 2012 release of Country, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad (GPGDS) proved their musical identity to be as undefinable as their name. The Rochester, NY-based quintet was known as a reggae-jam band, relentlessly touring on the back of their debut album Slow Down (2006). Six years later, GPGDS released the Americana-themed Country which defied expectations for a reggae band’s sophomore release. “It is acoustic roots music at its finest...a major statement of purpose from a group who truly embody the spirit of their music” praised CBS Street Date. The band has since released two reggae albums, In These Times (2012), and Steady (2014), which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae chart.
On May 18, GPGDS will release Bright Days on Easy Star Records. Like Steady, the album was recorded at Rear Window Studio in Brookline, MA, and produced by Craig Welsch (10 Ft. Ganja Plant). Featuring nine original songs ranging from American Beauty-era Grateful Dead sounds (the title track) to African-inspired instrumentals (“Atabey”) to early Neil Young (“It Won’t Be Long”), Bright Days at times plays like a lost vinyl gem found at a yard sale.
Bright Days features guests G. Love on harmonica on “Humboldt County Gold,” and renowned mandolin player Eric Robertson (The Boston Boys) on “Atabey,” “Good To You,” and “War Machine.” Milt Reder, the owner of Rear Window Studio, plays guitar throughout the record. Reder has a long history in the business as a player, producer and songwriter, having worked with Susan Tedeschi, Bo Diddley, and others. Welsch suggested Reder participate in the Bright Days recording. The band was hesitant to take such a risk, until they witnessed him shredding George Harrison lines note for note in a Beatles cover band in a small Boston bar. Reder instantaneously provided a Zen atmosphere with his playing, guiding GPGDS to accomplish their goal of recording songs that had never been rehearsed or worked out previous to the studio session. "When Milt plugged in his guitar and began to play, we realized that the session was serious and special," says singer-bassist James Searl.
Bright Days will be released on 180-gram black vinyl, along with a 180-gram black vinyl version of Steady. A pre-order launched April 14 at iTunes and via the band’s website, which includes an instant download of the title track.
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad kicks off a seven-date West coast tour on May 22 at California Roots Festival in Monterey, CA.
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad - U.S. Tour Dates
May 9: Orlando, FL - Reggae On The Block
May 22: Monterey, CA - California Roots Festival
May 24: Novato, CA - HopMonk Tavern
May 25: Oakland, CA - Leo’s
May 27: Las Vegas, NV - Brooklyn Bowl
May 28: Hermosa Beach, CA - Saint Rocke
May 30: Ventura, CA - Discovery Ventura
May 31: Solana Beach, CA - Fiesta del Sol
July 11: San Bernardino, CA - Chalice Festival
July 16-19: Trumansburg, NY - GrassRoots Festival
July 31: Berryville, VA - Pasture Palooza
Aug 8: Loveland, CO - Arise Music Festival
Aug 21: Franklin, OH - Ohmstead Music Festival
Aug 22: Bartow, WV - Camp Barefoot
Additional Dates TBA
http://LivePanda.com " More info »
March 31, 2015NEW KINGSTON RELEASE "TODAY" MUSIC VIDEO
"New Kingston release their official video for "Today" from new album Kingston City!
Watch it on YouTube
Download the new album Kingston City on iTunes " More info »
February 25, 2015JBB RETURNS WITH KINGS AND QUEENS IN DUB
"Almost two years to the day after releasing the beloved Kings And Queens - which topped the Billboard Reggae Chart and reconfirmed John Brown’s Body’s status as one of the most influential American reggae bands - JBB returns with KINGS AND QUEENS IN DUB. Taking inspiration from landmark dub albums by Burning Spear, Aswad, and others, the new release features the entire sequence from Kings And Queens mixed by a who’s who of dub champions including Ticklah, Dubmatix, Dubfader (of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant), UK legend Dennis Bovell, Yesking, Michael G (of Easy Star All-Stars), Lord Echo (of The Black Seeds), and more.
While the band has been working on new material for an upcoming release loosely scheduled for this fall, saxophonist Drew Sayers worked closely with Easy Star Records founders Eric Smith and Lem Oppenheimer to put together this album. John Brown’s Body had previously released the 2012 EP JBB IN DUB and had a number of great instrumental dub tracks in their catalog, but this release marks the first time the band has attempted to do a complete dub version of one of their full existing albums.
The dub collaborators give a good sense of the currently growing global dub scene, hailing from areas of the world including the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA. Ticklah, Dubmatix, Michael G and Dubfader are good representatives of the current vanguard from North America, each with past collaborations with JBB in their history. Dennis Bovell and Yesking both represent the UK, Bovell of course as one of the most influential dub artists ever, having started his career with Matumbi, and eventually producing much of Linton Kwesi Johnson’s output, along with helping to define the sound of UK lovers rock in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
A first track from the record, “Pulsing Dub,” which was mixed by Yesking, is being premiered by Boomshots on February 25th, and the track will be made available to fans via John Brown’s Body’s SoundCloud page, which has over 2 million followers. The album itself will be available via pre-order at iTunes, including two tracks instantly available to anyone who pre-orders.
John Brown’s Body has a handful of major tour dates coming up, including an appearance at California Roots Festival in Monterey, CA, which has become one of the biggest events in the US reggae calendar each year, as well as a record release show at Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, NY, which will also include a DJ set from Ticklah.
" More info »
November 13, 2015GDC'S THE BIG
SMOKE OUT NOW
The new album from Gentleman's Dub Club, The Big Smoke, is out now! Featuring the singles "M… More »
October 15, 2015JOHN BROWN'S BODY
2015 FALL TOUR
American reggae pioneers John Brown’s Body (JBB) continue their 2015 Fall Tour, hitting up Philade… More »
August 24, 2015 officialGENTLEMAN'S DUB CLUB
SIGNS TO EASY STAR RECORDS
Gentleman’s Dub Club, the beloved UK reggae act that plays to packed venues and festivals in their … More »
August 12, 2015 officialNEW KINGSTON ANNOUNCES
July 13, 2015BACKBEAT SOUNDSYSTEM
June 25, 2015 officialTHE EXPANDERS DEBUT
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